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How to Prepare a Dog for Winter

author Lucy Byrne | Health and diet

Autumn is associated with shorter days, lower temperatures, sleets, fog and humidity. However, it is also associated with piles of leaves to be jumped through, muddy puddles to play in, fallen chestnuts for fetching and other fun for dogs. In order to keep our dog companion fit and healthy for all these funny activities, its immune system needs to be boosted and we need to implement a few simple measures:

In this season, there is a greater risk of infection from another dog as the humidity and lower temperatures help the viruses to spread. Moreover, the indoor dogs are exposed to temperature shocks. While you take off your clothes when you come inside, your dog goes outside with the same fur which is acclimated for home temperature. However, you can easily prevent this by using a dog coat. It’s no longer a fad. Dressing dogs (in a functional and meaningful way) is useful. I wrote more on this topic in the article called Ten Commandments of Functional Clothing.

When dog’s health is discussed,  high-quality diet needs to be always mentioned. This goes hand in hand with dog’s energy. A properly working immune system is dependent on healthy bowels. Moreover, if the body doesn’t have to cope with burdens in the form of substances which are difficult to digest, the animal will have more energy for its immune system. 

If the dog spends a lot of time during the day outside or it lives in the garden throughout the whole year, colder days mean more energy consumed for it to keep warm. Therefore, you’ll need to give it more food or opt for food which provides more energy. It is also a good idea to add vitamins and probiotics into its diet and they won’t do any harm to couch potatoes as well :) Lower temperatures aren’t kind to musculoskeletal system, mainly to joints. Particularly outdoor dogs will appreciate articular nutrition.

There are also other measures for autumn for outdoor dogs. Their kennel should be insulated at least from three sides, their food and mainly water should be on a dry and preferably warm place. Icy water doesn’t really help in cold weather. 

Another measure that helps to keep your dog healthy is an optional vaccination against kennel cough.. Mainly if the dog often finds himself among more dogs, for example on the training ground or dog playground.

Another trap waiting for our companions is a mite called Trombicula autumnalis the bites of which cause strong allergic reaction. The spot is itchy and red for several days. Parasites like to pick spots with less fur and soft skin, particularly ear folds or also the interdigital areas and abdomen. They are small spots with brick colour. Fortunately, we can easily get rid of them with a parasiticide or a shampoo.

The dog might also have problems with awns.  These are little grass seeds which stick to dogs’ paws and other body parts. Therefore, avoid places with faded, dry grass and check the dog’s fur and paws after every walk. Pay particular attention when the dog scratches itself a lot – or tries to bite out its fur on some spot. You can read more about this here. 

Regular checks of the fur might also help to detect skin inflammation besides awns and mites. It is particularly a threat in this season when the dog wants to roll around in many dirty and muddy puddles. Therefore, it might easily get infected. 

What about you, are you looking forward to autumn after hot summer? I have to admit that not my dog companion nor me like the hot weather very much and therefore, we always look forward to autumn and every joy (even though it’s dirty) it can offer.